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Organized in 1880, the object of the Firemen's Association of the State of Pennsylvania shall be for the general improvement of the fire service throughout the state; to provide protection to disabled fire fighters and to those dependent upon them, through legislation enactment; to open upon the best manner and means for the fighting of fires and public fire safety education; to promote the organization of fire companies and fire departments in communities in need of such protection, and encourage a fraternal friendship among firefighters.

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Penn State develops grain bin accident simulator

Written by Ben Allen and Radio Pennsylvania | May 24, 2016 2:02 PM

(State College) -- Grain production in Pennsylvania has been climbing for years, and that means more grain bins, which raises the risk of entrapments.
Across the U.S., Purdue University says 17 people died in grain bin accidents in 2014.

Penn State engineering students took notice, and have developed a simulator to help first responders train for such rescues.
Grain can completely cover someone in a grain bin within 22 seconds, and most deaths occur because of suffocation.
Dave Hill with Penn State's Agricultural Safety and Health program says emergency responders had asked for the training because many aren't familiar with grain bins.

"We really haven't had a grain entrapment in several years, but we do have more bins going up, so the opportunity is there," says HIll.

Hill says many people working on the farm also don't know how quickly an accident could turn fatal.

"Some of the farm people really don't realize how quickly they can be trapped in flowing grain. And once they get in very deep, and we're saying over their knee to their waist, they can't get out, and that's when the emergency responders are needed," he adds.
Last month, Penn State offered two days of farm safety training for first responders.

Don Konkle
PFESI, 223 State Street, Harrisburg, PA 17101
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Are You Ready for the Politics of Fire Service Finances?

My friends I believe that it is once again time to take a look at the world of budgets and finance. Money is the fuel which runs the machine of our operations and the oil which lubricates the engine as we move forward to protect out communities. It is important to remember, that no matter what government administrators wish to do, the people can still have a voice. We hear this voice through the approval of those representatives directly elected by the populace. It is up to us to insure that these people hear us.

What may seem like a reasonable expenditure to provide municipal fire protection may fail to meet the needs or election promises of elected government officials in their quest to remain in power. You will soon discover that very few politicians will ever jeopardize their political careers for the good of the fire service. They will pat you on the back and gush over you with praise, but they will frequently keep their municipal checkbook in their pocket.

Fire administrators or would-be administrators must remember that political expediency frequently takes the place of a viable government policy. Taxation is not different. The matter of public finance is frequently the target of partisan bickering. It is important to remember that, politics will always be a part of the manner in which government raises its operating capital. It would be wise to gather three elements in any battle for fiscal resources which must be fought with politicians. Facts-Figures-Friends

Facts must prove fire department need and create rock-solid arguments which can withstand the glare of the public spotlight. It is difficult for a politician to argue against a reasonable presentation supported by facts. Figures are essential to the fire administrator in search of organizational improvements. Funds which come from the public's treasury must be justified by figures which show exact costs. Better yet, they should show how much will be saved by their expenditure. The shrewd fire administrator will gain friends throughout the community who can fight the political battle he should avoid such fights.

It has been said that the setting and collection of user-based fees and charges is an extremely efficient way for local government to bring in the funds necessary to provide governmental services to any jurisdiction. When taxing capacity in an area is exhausted, government frequently turns to specific user fees to fill in the revenue gaps. But are these not taxes with a new name?

This was frequently the case in California following the effects of Propostition-13 fever in the late 70's and early 80's. Fees were assessed for many of the services normally provided as part of governmental tax collection. In some instances they were overturned in court for being too vague in their justifiable expense of doing business. There are still a number of jurisdictions that charge separate fees for services such as fire inspections, code and plan reviews and extinguisher charging.

I can recall the time that one innovative fire department in Texas even developed a program to rent Wet-Vacs for dewatering purposes in their community. While the funds raised by such efforts are often too low to cover the cost of providing the service, they can create additional income and a bit of good will by providing these extra services.

One good example comes from New Jersey's Uniform Fire Code. It establishes a system where fees are set by the various local, county and state inspection programs. Fees are collected by the level of government which performs the service and forwarded to the Bureau of Fire Safety for processing. The state retains 20% of the fees for agency expense and fire code administration. Local and county enforcement agencies receive the other 80 percent to fund their operations. The program has allowed most fire prevention bureaus in New Jersey to increase their size and improve the delivery of fire prevention and inspection services.

Fire administrators who seek to gain funds from a dedicated user-oriented fee schedule must seek both political and legal advice before proceeding with such a program. This may speed success and eliminate opposition. An additional funding source for local fire protection programs once came from the transfer funds available through federal revenue-sharing programs. Community Block Grants frequently bought the land and built the fire stations now used in many cities, towns and villages across America. This is typified by loans available from the Farmer's Home Administration (FHA) and various urban development grants.
Intergovernmental transfers of funds are still quite prevalent in such areas of government service as health and educational programs. In these cases, state and federal programs mandate the delivery of certain programs. If monies are not forwarded to accomplish these tasks, they would be underfunded and would probably miss most of the targeted user population.
It has been a proud part of my career to have been one of the early supporters of what developed into theFIRE Act and SAFER Act programs. I can recall our many meetings back in the late 1990's and the early 2000's when we came together as a national fire service to support the important work of Congressman Bill Pascrell of New Jersey. He and a number of his fire service associates crafted the programs which have been provided needed funding to our fire service for more than a decade now.

Let me assure you that politics played a great part of bringing all parties to the table to make these vital programs happen. I also want you to know that the battle to keep them alive and properly funded is one that is still being fought. There are still those who think that fire and the problems it causes are a local issue. You and I know the depth and breadth of the problem. My Road Trip back in 2006 confirmed for me that great good had been done in a wide variety of places by the funding which came to communities big and small through the FIRE Act. The battle is ongoing. Please remember that.
Getting back to your local battle, please try to remember that in far too many cases insufficient capital is available to do what the politicians and administrators desire. Borrowing money to pay for the daily expenses of governmental programs and services is a poor practice. One needs to look no further than the federal deficit to understand how wide spread is this practice. While the federal deficit may see, to indicate that borrowing for governmental purposes is a poor practice, the converse may be accurate.

However, when borrowing is done in reasonable amounts, at reasonable interest rates for necessary capital improvements, capital financing is an excellent way to spread the cost of high-priced, large-scale projects over a number of years. This practice will lessen their impact on any one budgetary year.
You need to take a look back at our fire service history for some example that can stimulate your thought processes for future planning. An excellent example can be put forward in favor of creative capital financing comes from St. Louis, Missouri. Many years ago this fire department put together a large-scale bond proposition which replaced every piece of fire department apparatus and refurbished most of the fire stations. The same issue also paid for a new communication center and a modern training facility.

While the cost was high, every segment of the community benefited and the cost was extended over a number of years to bring it within reach. A strong word of warning is in order at this time. Please do not consider borrowing long-term capital funds to pay for your current expenses. This helped to create the financial problems faced by New York City in 1975. Only the most stringent financial controls, personnel layoffs and program reductions were able to stave off municipal bankruptcy.

Remember that there is always a cost involved in using borrowed money. The debt service on long-term capital financing can eat up the funds necessary for meeting current expenses. It is, therefore, essential to maintain a proper debt-to-capital ratio so that current and long-term financial obligations can be met. It may be wise to seek professional financial assistance before embarking on a large-scale borrowing and spending programs.
Harried taxpayers often ask quite simply, "Where does all the money (that you collect in the form taxes) go?" Whether spending authority is vested in an independent fire company, a fire district, or a tax supported fire department reporting directly to an arm of government, the question remains the same. The consequences which impact the authority which is receiving the money also remains the same. Responsible jurisdictions expect a fair and accurate accounting of how the funds are spent. It is the astute fire administrator who constantly reinforces this concept of fiscal accountability to those who provide the tax dollars, as well as those who allocate the resources in local government.

No study of local government expenditures would be complete without a look at the ratio of short-range current expenses to the longer and larger periphery of the bonded capital debt. Two distinct areas of expense make up the local spending arena. Things paid for on a day to day basis, through the current expense funding mechanism take up the immediate attention of the fire administrator. Projects whose cost is spread over a number of years require the fire administrator's talents at planning.

The reasons for varying levels of local fire expenditures go well beyond those things which local government can directly control. However, the trends must be monitored and local operations and expenditures tailored to meet the newly emerging protective service needs dictated by these trends. An example of this would stress that those charged with providing fire protection in an area of explosive suburban growth are powerless to influence the influx of new citizens to their community.

Various factors have combined to make semi-rural and suburban areas very attractive to urban dwellers within easy commuting distance. The fire administrator cannot wish the people away but must adjust financial resource commitments to provide everyone with a reasonable level of fire protection.
It would also be wise for him to meet with developers in an effort to share some of the cost new fire stations and make a case for residential sprinklers in new construction. You must be responsive to factors which have historically impacted the delivery of services. Population shifts have been referred to previously, but there are other elements which combine to determine the level of local government expenditures.
The national economy will continue to have an impact upon decisions as to how money will be spent. When the economy is good, people are more willing to commit funds than during a downturn. Economic downturns must be monitored for their effect at the local level. Any change in the amount of income flowing into a community will spell change for that jurisdiction. As a nation we are still recovering from the fiscal problems we have faced for the past several years.
Cost of delivery is another area of concern for local government financial people. This may mean more to the person charged with sanitation or municipal recreation than the firefighter, because there are few alternatives to calling the fire department when your house is burning. However, a long-term swing may occur if the private sector can begin to provide fire protection at a lower cost than local government.
The issue of private contracting for fire protection comes up every few years in the literature of the fire service. Its popularity seems to ebb and flow with the winds of economic change. It may be that someday all of our fire protection will come from the lowest bidder. It is the wise fire service administrator who will seek to become customer responsive now, before the push to convert comes.
Let me suggest that you have to become politically active if you are going to remain competitive for local fiscal resources. Remember to gather facts and figures to support your case. You must always be working to gain and maintain friends who can help you in your battle for better budgets. Good luck and stay active.
HARRY R. CARTER, Ph.D., CFO, MIFireE, a Firehouse.com Contributing Editor, is a municipal fire protection consultant based in Adelphia, NJ. Dr. Carter retired from the Newark, NJ, Fire Department and is a past chief and active life member of the Adelphia Fire Company. Follow Harry on his You can reach Harry by e-mail at drharrycarter@optonline.net.

Don Konkle
PFESI, 223 State Street, Harrisburg, PA 17101
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Fireworks-related injuries increase as state laws ease

May 3, 2016

BALTIMORE - Between 2006 and 2012, the overall estimated amount of children injured by fireworks increased nationwide, while state laws related to the sale of fireworks to minors were relaxed, according to a poster presentation at the Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting.

"The increase in fireworks-related injuries and the severity of these injuries in children since 2006 are very concerning," Charles Woods, MD, FAAP, of pediatric infectious diseases at the University of Louisville, said in a press release. "Although our findings do not prove a direct link to relaxations in state laws governing fireworks sales, it may be time for lawmakers to reassess this issue."

To determine the epidemiology of fireworks injuries among children across the United States, the researchers studied admissions of pediatric patients with fireworks-related burns from 2006 to 2012 using data from the Nationwide Inpatient Sample and the Nationwide Emergency Department Sample. Woods and colleagues first identified 59,350 patients using the code for accident caused by explosive material, then further identified 3,193 patients who suffered a burn injury. Census data were used with statistical analysis to determine a national estimated pediatric firework-related injury rate.

Study results showed that the burn-related injuries equated to an estimated 90,257 fireworks-related burn injuries among pediatric patients nationwide during the study period. The researchers found that the incidence rate of fireworks injuries increased slightly from 4.28 per 100,000 population in 2006 to 5.12 per 100,000 in 2012 (P = .019). Furthermore, the mean age of patients requiring inpatient admission decreased from 12.1 years to 11.4 years (P =.006), while the proportion of inpatient admissions grew from 28.9% to 50% during the study period (P < .001). In addition, the mean length of stay also was greater (3.12 days vs. 7.35 days; P < .001).

"Parents and caregivers of children also should be aware of these increasingly serious injuries and the potential dangers involved in allowing young children to handle and play with fireworks," Woods said in the press release. - by David Costill

Myers J, et al. Abstract 4135.266. Presented at: Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting; April 30-May 3, 2016; Baltimore.
Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.
Daniel M. Fein
This is an issue that is near and dear to my heart - as an emergency medicine physician, often times people think of us as only treating injuries but, of course, the best injury is the one that never happens. It is imperative upon us to have forward thinking and foresight, and ensure that we are doing what we can to prevent injuries from happening.

The first step in prevention is highlighting that there is a problem to begin with. During the time period the study researchers looked at, they found that there was a significant increase in firework injuries amongst children, not to mention, an even more significant increase in the percentage of injuries that require hospitalization.

Fireworks can be beautiful: they are stunning displays, they are fun to watch, but it has to stay at that. There are trained professionals who have licenses for this and by putting fireworks into the hands of children - or adults who don't know what they are doing - they are putting themselves, children surrounding them, their families, and, frankly, all the spectators at risk. I think these researchers did a great job in highlighting this growing need for reevaluation of our current laws.

Daniel M. Fein, MD
Division of Pediatric Emergency Medicine
Children's Hospital at Montefiore
Assistant professor of pediatrics
Albert Einstein College of Medicine

Don Konkle
PFESI, 223 State Street, Harrisburg, PA 17101
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